The central Cabinet reshuffle of Wednesday among many other things has ensured to increase the representation of women with seven new women members of Parliament being sworn in as Ministers of State. The new appointments, effected in line with the Narendra Modi government’s resolve to bring diversity in terms of representation of caste, religion and gender to the Cabinet, takes the total number of women ministers to 11.
The Modi government had come under heavy fire when only three women were selected as Union ministers when the Cabinet took oath in 2019. So far there were only three women Cabinet ministers and as many ministers of state. The list was reduced to just two – Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani – when Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Balal resigned from the government over the farm laws last year.
This time, while Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been given the additional charge of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Smriti Irani, who was in charge of the Ministry of Textile has been shifted to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Minister of State Debashree Chaudhury was dropped during the cabinet rejig. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, the MoS in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and the Ministry of Rural Development; and Renuka Singh Saruta, MoS in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs have remained untouched by the changes.
Seven new faces have been introduced this time to fill the gender gap:
Anupriya Patel (40)
This is Patel’s second stint in the lower house as an MP from the Mirzapur Lok Sabha constituency of Uttar Pradesh. A former MLA of Apna Dal, she served as a MoS in the Ministry of Health during the first tenure of the NDA government.
Patel holds an MBA degree from Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj University, and worked as a professor at Amity University before joining politics.
She has been appointed as the MoS in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Shobha Karandlaje (54)
The BJP MP from Karnataka’s Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency is a two-time legislator in the Lok Sabha.
Having served as a one-time MLA and MLC each, she has handled the state departments of Power, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj System and Food and Civil Supplies in the state cabinet.
She has been given charge as Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
Darshana Vikram Jardosh (60)
The third-time MP from Surat has earlier served as a Corporator of Surat Municipal Corporation. A BCom graduate from KP Commerce College, Surat, Darshana is the director of Sanskruti, a cultural organisation.
She has been appointed as MoS in the ministries of Textiles and Railways.
Meenakshi Lekhi (54)
The Supreme Court lawyer, who is serving her second term as a Lok Sabha MP from Delhi, has been a member of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation.
She has been entrusted as the MoS in the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Culture.
Annapurna Devi (51)
She has the unique distinction of becoming the minister of Mines and Geology in Bihar when she was just 30.
Annapurna is now serving her first term as an MP from Jharkhand’s Kodarma constituency. A four-time MLA from Bihar and Jharkhand, she has handled portfolios like irrigation, women and child welfare and registration.
She has been appointed the MoS in the Ministry of Education.
Pratima Bhoumik (52)
Pratima, who hails from the farmers’ community is serving her first term as MP from Tripura West. She holds a graduate degree in Bio-Science from Women’s College under Tripura University.
She has been made MoS in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Dr Bharati Pawar
A first-time MP from Maharashtra’s Dindori, Bharati earlier served as a member of the Nashik Zila Parishad. She is a doctor by profession and holds an MBBS degree in surgery.
She has been appointed as MoS in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.